By Jaydeep Saha, Contributing Writer, HCL Technologies Ltd. 

 

To bring an end to the dominance of US companies, like Amazon and Walmart, in the fast-growing e-commerce market, the Indian government is aiming to take its e-commerce proposition to a global platform.

A Reuters news report recently said that India was already in talks with Google for the integration of its shopping services with the country’s open e-commerce network ONDC, which was soft-launched by the government on April 29.

What is the ONDC and how will it function

  • Spearheaded by the commerce ministry, the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is an initiative aimed at promoting open networks for all aspects of exchange of goods and services over digital or electronic networks.
  • ONDC is to be based on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols—independent of any specific platform.
  • The foundations of ONDC are to be open protocols for all aspects in the entire chain of activities in exchange of goods and services, similar to hypertext transfer protocol for information exchange over internet, simple mail transfer protocol for exchange of emails and unified payments interface (UPI) for payments.
  • These open protocols will be used for establishing public digital infrastructure in the form of open registries and open network gateways to enable exchange of information between providers and consumers.
  • The providers and consumers would be able to use any compatible application of their choice for exchange of information and carrying out transactions over ONDC.
  • ONDC goes beyond the current platform-centric digital commerce model where the buyer and seller must use the same platform or application to be digitally visible and do a business transaction.

“After UPI, another game changing idea to democratize commerce - ONDC soft launch today to select consumers, sellers, and logistics providers. Get ready for a world of choice, convenience, and transparency,” tweeted Piyush Goyal, Union Commerce and Industry Minister.

The ONDC program aims to join 30 million sellers and 10 million merchants online and cover at least 100 cities and towns by August.

ONDC Chief Executive T Koshy told Reuters that Google was one of many companies it was in discussions with to be associated with the project.

This latest initiative comes after the Indian government’s successful initiative for financial transactions, the UPI, which was—in part—enabled by Google Pay.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on whether it was in talks with the government but—referring to its payments service—told Reuters: “We remain committed to focus on the enablement of small and medium businesses to leverage digital for deeper discovery and payments capabilities with Google Pay.”

Indian Business Portal

In addition to the proposed e-commerce network, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, recently launched the Indian Business Portal, an international trade hub for Indian exporters and foreign buyers recently.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), in partnership with GlobalLinker, has designed and developed the Indian Business Portal—a B2B digital marketplace to empower SME exporters, artisans, and farmers to identify new markets for their products and grow their sales globally.

Launching the portal, Patel said: “Indian Business Portal addresses a number of elements which are part of the vision of PM Modi and a commitment of this government, like digitizing exporters, supporting MSME, and encouraging greater exports of products ‘Made in India’.”

Patel mentioned that during the pandemic, online platforms, such as e-commerce, have shown immense potential in supporting millions of businesses. This initiative according to the minister, has come at very appropriate time as currently Indian exports are witnessing robust growth.

Patel added that this is the most opportune time for the young entrepreneurs to get into business and exports.

Key figures

  • India’s overall exports (services and merchandise) touched US$ 676.2 billion in financial year 2021-2022 as both services and merchandise hit record high exports in financial year 2021-2022.
  • India’s overall exports were US$ 526.6 billion and US$ 497.9 billion in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively.
  • India’s merchandise exports had crossed US$ 400 billion milestone in financial year 2021-2022 and stood at US$ 421.8 billion, a phenomenal increase of 44.6 percent and 34.6 percent over 2020-21 and 2019-20, respectively.